Dried Fruit and Nuts
Dried fruit and nuts are a popular combination and make a healthy snack
to serve. Dried fruit and nuts are also a popular alternative to the fruitcake
as a non-perishable holiday gift. Typical combinations of dried fruit
and nuts include berries such as cranberry, citrus fruits such as oranges,
and a variety of nuts from cashews to walnuts. Trail mixes will often
contain dried fruit and nuts along with other key ingredients such as
granola, whole grain cereal, and even chocolate chips.
Because dried fruit and nuts are both a healthy and palatable combination
and a convenient, non-perishable food item, they can be packed and shipped,
make a great snack for day trips and camping, and are great for parties.
Dried fruit and nuts can be bought in grocery and health food stores,
but you can also make mixes at home.
While investing in a food dehydrator is the best way to make dried fruit
for mixing with nuts, first timers can use a conventional oven. Fruits
dried in an oven take a long time, turn dark, and usually come out more
brittle than with an electric dehydrator, but oven drying is a viable
alternative if you can't invest in new equipment. Select fruit such as
cranberries, apricots, oranges, blueberries, or whatever your preference
and keep in mind that without the juices, dried fruit will taste differently
than fresh. So a fruit you may not like fresh may taste good dried.
Oven drying fruit takes several hours and the oven temperature should
be maintained between 140 and 150 degrees. If necessary, peel fruit, remove
stems, and slice no thicker than ¼ inch. Cranberries, blueberries,
cherries, and other small fruits can be left whole. An electric food dehydrator
is quicker, produces better results, and is simply more convenient. Besides
mixing dried fruit and nuts, you can also incorporate dried fruit into
other meals by adding to salads, plain rice, and yogurt. For trail mix,
combine dried fruit and nuts of your choice with chocolate chips, granola
cereal, marshmallows, or other bite-sized favorites.